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2020 Citizen Survey Results Show Quality of Life in Ann Arbor Remains Strong, though Rise in Cost of Living and Housing are Concerns

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Archived News Release: December 8, 2020 - ​In July and August, 2,700 randomly selected residents were asked to provide opinions on city services, amenities, and their quality of life in Ann Arbor via the National Citizen Survey, a collaborative effort between National Research Center Inc. (NRC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). This was a statistically valid survey that captured opinions of a representative sample of 548 residents of the city of Ann Arbor. 

According to the NCS Community Livability Report, “Overall quality of community life represents the natural ambience, services and amenities that make for an attractive community." How residents rate their overall quality of life is an indicator of the overall health of a community. In the case of Ann Arbor, 90 percent rated the city as an “excellent" or “good" place to live.

Other results from the Community Livability Report included:

  • More residents felt that the quality of the transportation system in Ann Arbor was an essential or very important focus for the community in the coming years (84%) than residents in other communities.

  • Respondents' evaluations of the ease of walking in Ann Arbor and bus or transit services were rated as exceptional and higher than the national comparisons, with at least two-thirds of residents rating these as excellent or good.

  • Additionally, more respondents in Ann Arbor reported walking, biking, or using public transportation instead of driving than respondents in comparison communities across the U.S. However, since 2018, respondents gave lower marks to the overall quality of the transportation system, ease of travel by public transportation, and bus or transit services in Ann Arbor; further, the use of public transportation instead of driving was also on the decline.

  • Respondents' ratings of all aspects of parks and recreation were outstanding and higher than the national averages. About 9 in 10 residents gave high marks to the overall quality of parks and recreation opportunities. Additionally, assessments of the availability of paths and walking trails were much higher than the national benchmarks and ranked 12th out of all comparison communities in the country.

  • About 8 in 10 residents favorably rated the overall economic health of Ann Arbor, which was on par with national norms.

  • Only about half of community members did not experience housing cost stress; which declined from 2018 to 2020 and was lower than observed in comparison communities nationwide. Additionally, respondents' reviews of the cost of living in Ann Arbor were lower than the national averages with 15% rating this as excellent or good.

  • In 2020, fewer respondents in Ann Arbor believed the economy would have a positive impact on their income in the six months following the survey compared to 2018, possibly highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Previous survey results (2007, 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2018) are available on the city's website. The 2020 survey results include the following reports:

  • Community Livability Report (PDF): This report captures what makes a community livable, attractive and a place where people want to be.

  • Trends Over Time (PDF): This report compares the 2018 ratings for the City of Ann Arbor to its previous survey results.   

  • Comparisons by Demographic (PDF) and Geographic (PDF) subgroups. 

  • Technical Appendices (PDF): Complete survey responses, benchmark comparisons, detailed survey methods and survey.   

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Contact Information

Lisa Wondrash
Communications Director
[email protected]


Ann Arbor has 119,000 residents, spans 28.9 square miles and is frequently recognized as a foremost place to live, learn, work, thrive and visit. To keep up with City of Ann Arbor information, subscribe for email updates, follow us on Twitter or become a city fan on Facebook. The city's mission is to deliver exceptional services that sustain and enhance a vibrant, safe and diverse community.